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Ohio’s attorney general arrested over 160 human traffickers in a sting operation last week, illuminating a grim issue in a state where over 1,000 children have gone missing so far in 2023.
A six-day crackdown on human trafficking in Ohio, dubbed “Operation Buyer’s Remorse,” resulted in the arrests of over 160 adults ranging from doctors and nurses to former law enforcement officers.
“Over the course of the week, 149 “johns” seeking to buy sex were arrested and charged with engaging in prostitution. Additional arrests included two individuals for seeking to have sex with minors and six for promoting prostitution,” a press release from Ohio AG Dave Yost read.
Over 100 human trafficking victims found during the raids, which included 11 massage parlors, were directed to health care and social service organizations.
“I am grateful for each and every partner who dedicated their time and resources, as we all play a key role in the fight against human trafficking,” Yost said. “Our message is simple: Don’t buy sex in Ohio!”
Missing children: Hundreds of thousands each year
The families of the 104 victims found during last week’s raids can begin the healing process. Yet, hundreds of thousands of families each year remain broken by the loss of their children.
On average, over 400,000 children go missing in the U.S. each year, according to the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Many remain unsolved.
This year alone, the city of Cleveland,Ohio experienced over 1,000 missing children, including 50 in September, AG Yost reported.
“I am fearful of all kinds of things that fall through the cracks that include missing children,” the attorney general told News 5 Cleveland. “I rely on the tenacity of a worried parent more than I do a harried bureaucrat whose job it is to put data into a computer.”
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has received over 5 million calls to its hotline 1-800-THE-LOST over the last 39 years, according to their website.
Yet the threats children face in an increasingly online world continues to cause pain to the families of missing children.
Ohio’s recent sting operation illuminates just how severe the issue remains. Ultimately, people trusted to protect and serve instead kidnapped and harmed.
“Those arrested come from all backgrounds, including an EMT, nurses, educators, retirees, former law enforcement officers, self-employed individuals, delivery drivers, and others,” AG Yost stated. “The youngest john arrested was 17 and the oldest was 84.”